Jo established Immediate Theatre in 1996 to create a relationship between her work and the community in which she lives, Hackney. Prior to this, Jo worked as a freelance director and project development worker for a range of organisations leading new writing and education programmes. These included: the Royal Court, Paines Plough, the Liverpool Everyman, Theatre Venture, Theatr Powys, the Half Moon Young Peoples’ Theatre. Jo is Chair of Governors for a local Primary School, trustee of Maya Productions and Chair of Mimbre, a locally based acrobatic company which is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation. Jo has also delivered consultancy projects for the Round House and London Bubble.
During her career, Jo has developed plays which introduce older audiences of differing cultural backgrounds which was invaluable when delivering intergenerational work with funding from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery. Jo has had huge success winning funding bids for Immediate Theatre, including large contracts of over £300,000, resulting in a turnover of £850,000, employing 14 full time staff, freelancers and trainees. This reputation was recognised widely, with Jo winning awards for excellence from the Learning Trust and National Social Care & Health projects. With Immediate Theatre, Jo conceived the EbYT model, providing sustained arts activities in the most deprived areas of Hackney, and has also led on Theatre Pathways, tackling inequality for BAME young people seeking a career in the arts.
Charmain started working with Immediate Theatre in 1999. She initially became Project Coordinator for the Meet the Parents project in 2004. Her extensive experience of sex and relationship training has made this one of our most successful projects and the project is still up and running in schools across the borough today. Charmain is a level 1 and level 2 accredited tutor and has taught in a diverse range of educational settings across Hackney, for over 18 years.
She recently stepped into the role of Participation Manager, taking on the management of the Estate-based Youth Theatres, the cornerstone of Immediate’s work within the community. Charmain has many strings to her bow and works across numerous projects for the company as well as being the Safeguarding Deputy. She is an extremely dedicated member of staff, so much so that we find it difficult to get her on annual leave! You will always spot Charmain from the crowd, with her amazingly polished nails and larger-than-life earrings!
We were all deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague Tony Gouveia on 31st January 2017. Tony had been Associate Director of Immediate Theatre since 2008 and his impact on our work and the lives of hundreds of young people was significant. As Sir Peter Bazalgette, recent Chair of the Arts Council said, “The doorway into the arts can be hard to find” - Tony dedicated his life to reaching out into the community, to opening the door for people, young and old, and inviting them in. His loss has been felt deeply not just by his family and the young people he worked with but by the wider arts community. Over the nearly forty years of his career he was at the forefront of innovation and excellence and worked across Britain and the world becoming a legendary figure in the world of arts participation. In recognition of his contribution Arcola Theatre has dedicated one of their studios to his legacy and to the sectors continuing commitment to keeping the door way to theatre open for all.
Bianca first started at Immediate Theatre as a participant at the very tender age of 14 and took part in numerous shows such as Blood Lines and Coco Butta. Bianca had her first child at 18 years of age which then lead her to her first job with Immediate Theatre as a facilitator on the sex & relationships workshop delivered to schools called Meet the Parents. In 2014, Bianca then joined our Peer Facilitator programme for the year where she supported our estate-based youth theatres on estates across Hackney. Bianca particularly enjoyed working with young disabled people and has since supported our projects with this group. In 2016 Bianca came back to work as an Outreach & Case Worker on our employability programmes. In her spare time, Bianca particularly enjoys visiting the museums that London has to offer.
Sharon started working at Immediate Theatre in December 2013 as Administrator. Before her time at Immediate, she worked for many years as a broker before deciding to move her career into the Arts. Sharon spent a year travelling around Central & South America, working with various conservation projects before settling back in London where she worked with a national charity and then moved on to Immediate Theatre. Sharon took on the role of General Manager in 2015, taking on the responsibility of leading the organisation out of a difficult financial period. Outside of office hours, Sharon brings her passion for organisation and the outdoors together, organising group hikes to England’s beautiful countryside and regular summer camping trips!
Gbenga has been working with Immediate Theatre for over 2 years. He started his career as a Youth Justice Practitioner where he developed extensive experience engaging the hard to reach young people. After working on the Talent Match project for two years as an Outreach & Case Worker, Gbenga is now the Training Coordinator for Immediate Theatre’s employability work. He also works as a freelance videographer, delivering targeted workshops and producing independent videos for street artists, gallery’s and individuals. In his spare time, he enjoys creating art on canvas and visiting art galleries and exhibitions.
Milly is delighted to have joined the Immediate Theatre team in July 2017 to cover Sharon Mitcheson’s maternity leave. Having studied for a degree in Music and trained as a classical singer, Milly was keen to start a career in the Arts and found her passion for engaging young people in her first role with UK Youth on The Big Music Project. Away from the wonderful world of the Arts, you’ll find Milly either in the kitchen with wooden spoon in hand, or else rambling in the countryside with her black lab Bertie!
Current Year: Sep 2017 – Aug 2018
Immediate Theatre has been providing first time employment opportunities for young people since 2001 by employing young people as Peer Facilitators (aged 16-25 years) on our youth theatres across Hackney. The Peer Facilitator programme provides an opportunity for young people, with an interest in youth arts, to provide support to the staff team in community youth theatres. The programme is designed for young people who may face significant barriers to employment to prevent them from becoming NEET. In the past, we have worked with ex young offenders, young people in care, young carers and many who have low attainment levels at school. Peer Facilitators are recruited following a short training period which covers essential facilitation skills and safeguarding. This work has a significant impact on the Estate-based Youth Theatre participants, many of who experience complex challenges in their own lives. The Peer Facilitators act as a bridge between adult workers and the young people, acting as positive role models and pushing them to do their best.